Thanks to its exceptional box office performance, one could easily mistake the 1995’s Batman Forever for a successful movie. However, according to critics, Batman Forever is loud, excessively busy, and often boring, having nothing more to offer than charismatic performances of Jim Carrey as The Riddler and Tommy Lee Jones as Two-Face. Well, critics aren’t the only ones disappointed by the movie; Batman Forever lead, Val Kilmer, also reminisced about the crushing experience of playing Hollywood’s ultimate leading role.
Val Kilmer opened up about his performance of the Caped Crusader in Batman Forever, revealing many frustrating details from the movie’s set, in his autobiographical documentary Val, according to an article published by Comic Book. The rather intimate documentary about Val Kilmer’s life and career is assembled from recently shot material of the actor combined with countless home video material Kilmer shot himself over the course of a decade. As the film goes in-depth into his most iconic roles, it eventually mentions the actor’s experience on the Batman Forever movie set, which seems less than enjoyable.
The story of Val Kilmer as the Defender of Gotham started before Kilmer adorned the hero’s cape. His father, Eugene Dorris Kilmer, took Val and his two brothers to the set of the hit 1960s television show, Batman, starring Adam West as the lead. Young Val Kilmer, who was second grade at the time, even got to sit in the Batmobile, which had to be a memorable experience. Years later, Kilmer was exploring a remote bat cave while on vacation in Africa when he got an offer via his agent to replace Michael Keaton in Warner Bros.’ Batman Forever. Keaton’s portrayal of the Dark Knight in 1989’s Batman was highly praised, and though he left the project due to creative differences, Keaton might reprise his role in the upcoming Batgirl movie.
Kilmer was already an established actor at the time, having appeared in 1986’s Top Gun, a fantasy film Willow from 1988, and several other prominent titles of the decade, when he received the offer. Abandoning his usual protocols of reading the script, Val Kilmer accepted the part with boyish excitement and enthusiasm, only to have that same enthusiasm crushed by the limiting reality of the Batsuit. According to the mercurial actor, the Batsuit was so restrictive that he could barely move, requiring help to stand up and sit down.
Additionally, he admitted that wearing the suit prevented him from hearing anything, which prompted cast and crew members to stop talking to him during breaks, which felt utterly isolating. Val Kilmer lamented that his co-stars weren’t burdened by the masks and costumes they wore, which enabled them to flex their acting muscles and deliver tremendous, memorable performances. Getting any performance past the suit was difficult, as claimed by the actor.
Though it made him forever famous around the globe, Batman Forever cemented Val Kilmer’s reputation for being difficult to work with. The movie’s director, Joel Schumacher, is but one of many who have criticized the actor. Val Kilmer’s Val made its world premiere at the 2021 Cannes Film Festival, though anyone interested could find the autobiographical documentary on Amazon Prime Video.